Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Christmas Blues

As we are getting nearer to the end of the year, I was hoping to push my year list as close as 300 species as possible, although having missed a few rarities I doubt my final list will surpass that, it's still fun to just give it a try though. Seeing that there had been reports of a male Small Niltava plus a Chestnut-crowned Warbler at Lung Fu Shan which could add two more birds on my year list, I decided to give it a go. The afternoon before Christmas Eve was pretty quiet up there, only a few other birders were around, although everyone didn't have much luck with neither species. After everyone had gone, I took a stroll nearby, there weren't too much to see, but a flock of Red-billed Blue Magpies at close range kept me entertained, I can never get bored of them.

Lung Fu Shan is also quite good for mammals, and a large flock of Wild Boars was certainly a sight to behold...with their numbers really booming, no wonder they now frequently wander into the city. Blue Whistling Thrush was spotted nearby.

At around 4:15pm, when every single birder had left, I heard the song of the Small Niltava, a series of high pitched notes gave away it's location. I searched for the source of the song and sure enough it was perched on an open branch, singing away! I managed to find an opening amongst the thick foliage, the bird gave me about a minute of excellent views before melting away back into the dense cover. I was very fortunate to have such great views of the Niltava, although the Chestnut-crowned Warbler never showed itself...

I tried again on Christmas day morning for the warbler but it was yet another no show, so I decided to head over to Shek Kong Airfield around noon to look for other birds. Unfortunately there weren't much to be discovered there, all except a female Black-naped Monarch was worthy of note. It did however gave great eye-level views though, not complaining about that! A Chinese Blackbird which perched at close range was remotely interesting, being such a skittish species I would have expect it to have flown away straight after it saw me!

I visited Tai Po Kau on boxing day after my failed attempt for the Chestnut-crowned Warbler. It wasn't particularly exciting to start off with, the common species such as Silver-eared Mesias brought a splash of colours. Most of the usuals were present, but none of them were particularly photogenic, except for a curious White-bellied Epornis. One of my best find of the morning was a White-spectacled Warbler, it was a brief view, but it gave me just enough time to grab a record shot, it's broken eye-ring can be clearly seen. I also saw a Chestnut-flanked White-eye, but it was way too quick for my camera.

Only a few days left in 2017, I am at 304 (I recounted my records), wouldn't mind adding a few more birds...


  1. Those magpies are simply stunning....and the other species are not too shabby, Matt. Hope you make your target of 300 species. All the best for 2018.

    1. Cheers David, I actually did a recount on my ebird account and turns out it's actually at 304! I also missed a few species which I forgot to add onto ebird earlier!

  2. Nice bunch of woodland stuff. Any photo of something like White-spectacled Warbler is a prize indeed !
    The Small Niltava is very attractive, too. Often, I think, the birds are just waiting for the noisy humans to go away...